High achievers, the top 10% of performers in any field, seem to operate on a different level than the rest of us. They are 400% more productive, excel in their careers, and often leave a lasting impact on their industries. While their habits and routines may vary, there are four key mindsets that distinguish them from the average employee. By embracing these mindsets, anyone can unlock their full potential and reach new heights of success.
1. Tap into Your Intrinsic Motivation
High achievers are driven by a deep sense of purpose. They know their "why," the reason they chose their profession, and it fuels their passion and dedication. Understanding your intrinsic motivation is essential to blocking out distractions, overcoming obstacles, and finding fulfillment in your work.
Example: A software engineer may have chosen their profession because they enjoy solving complex problems and find joy in creating efficient solutions. A doctor may have chosen their profession because they want to help people and make a positive impact on their patients' lives.
Actionable tip: Take time to reflect on your career choice and identify your "why." Write it down and keep it visible as a reminder of your purpose.
2. Get Comfortable with Failure
High achievers are not afraid to take risks and embrace failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. They fear "not trying" more than they fear failing. This mindset allows them to experiment, innovate, and push beyond their comfort zones.
Example: Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, is famously quoted as saying, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, was rejected by 12 publishers before one finally agreed to publish her book.
Actionable tip: Reframe failure as a learning experience. When you encounter a setback, analyze what went wrong and use it as an opportunity to improve.
3. Reinforce Your Foundation
High achievers continuously work on the basic skills foundational to their success. They understand that mastery is a lifelong process and that there is always room for improvement.
Example: Professional athletes like LeBron James and Serena Williams continue to practice fundamental skills like dribbling and serving, even though they are already experts in their respective sports.
Actionable tip: Identify the fundamental skills essential to your profession and dedicate time to practicing and improving them.
4. Become a Lifelong Learner
High achievers are curious and always seek new knowledge and experiences. They learn through various means, including mentorship, networking, reading, observing others, watching videos, and listening to podcasts.
Example: Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, is known for his voracious appetite for knowledge. He reads extensively on various subjects, including science, history, and economics, to broaden his understanding of the world.
Actionable tip: Expand your knowledge by exploring different sources of information. Seek out mentors, attend conferences, read books, and engage in online forums related to your industry.
Embracing the four mindsets of high achievers – intrinsic motivation, comfort with failure, reinforcing your foundation, and lifelong learning – can help anyone unlock their full potential and boost their productivity. By adopting these mindsets, you'll be able to tap into your deepest motivations, overcome obstacles, and continuously improve your skills. With dedication and persistence, you can join the ranks of high achievers and make a lasting impact in your field.
Jonathan H. Westover, PhD is Chief Academic & Learning Officer (HCI Academy); Chair/Professor, Organizational Leadership (UVU); OD Consultant (Human Capital Innovations). Read Jonathan Westover's executive profile here.